Designers Donate Their Services to Create Rooms for Homeless Families


On February first, 18 families will be making a big move. They will go from nights spent in their cars, on relative’s couches, split up in shelters or on the streets to a room of their very own. And thanks to Vanessa De Vargas and her team of fellow big-hearted designers, they will be opening the door to more than just a place to escape the elements, but a place to embrace the idea of home.

  Vargas, who is the principal and founder of interior design firm Turquoise, and her team are working tirelessly all month to design and outfit the 18 units into personal living spaces that will feature both fun and functional elements. “Each room is going to be completely different,” says Vargas, who teamed up with Upward Bound House, a Santa Monica–based organization that provides housing and services to homeless families and seniors, to help them create the rooms in their newest property, Family Shelter. The new addition, which was formerly a Budget Motel before it was dramatically transformed by the Los Angeles architecture firm Vanos, was created in response to the growing number of families who have been forced out of their homes over the last few years. Families stay in the units for three months, during which time they work with the staff at Upward Bound House to get back on their feet through employment services and permanent housing placement assistance. “This will give them a place where they can feel safe,” says De Vargas, “They can lock their door and they can be together with their family.”


Vargas and the 13 other designers (they are still in need of designers to take on the last four un-adopted rooms, see information at the bottom of the article on how to help) that have signed on to the project have each “adopted” a unit, which was a simple concrete shell when they found it. Donating their services completely pro bono, the designers also must solicit donations of all the materials and products that they need to complete the rooms, including pillows, linens and towels. Thankfully, Vargas says the companies she has approached have been enthusiastic to help, and she has gotten major donations from Waterworks, Duralee, Zia Priven, Ashley Lighting (Care of ZF Service), Empiric Studio, Mary Tindukasiri, Madison and Grow, Benjamin Moore, Lana Cole, The Woven Company, Modern One, Finished by Design, DL Rhein, Kohl’s, Paper Mosaic Studio, Eclectics, Distant, Alysia cotter Photography, Amenity Home, Environment, Clark G. Davis, Jillian Kogan, Ero Chic Living, Ferm Living, Ann Sacks, Walk On Tile, Farmhouse Custom Cabinetry, Christopher Farr, Opuzen, Orange 22 and French American Wallpaper. “It’s amazing how many people have stepped up to the plate,” says De Vargas.


David Snow, the executive director of Upward Bound House says that many of the contractors they worked with also offered them services and materials at discounted prices or as donations. “And the designers, who are doing all this for free, are treating us like the highest-paying client,” he says.


Designers have until January 29 to complete their rooms. Check back for photos of the completed spaces.

And if you are a designer who wants to adopt one of the four remaining rooms, contact De Vargas immediately at

More news: